The Boston Celtics are getting ready for the most important game of the season – Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors. This series has a big missing element, and that’s Boston’s fourth-leading scorer, Gordon Hayward, who averaged around 17 points per game this season. Hayward exited the Bubble to be with his family, but upon re-entering, he was subject to a quarantine period. That period is up today.
#Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has cleared quarantine.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) September 11, 2020
No, this doesn’t mean that Hayward’s suiting it up for a miracle appearance in Game 7. Does it mean anything tangible? Not really. With that being said, if Hayward does choose to attend the game tonight, perhaps his presence on the bench could be a big boost to a young team that can take any edge they can get to put the defending champions away to bed.
Hayward has had a frustrating year on the injury front, with this latest ailment – a Grade 3 sprain – coming in Game 1 of the first-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics didn’t really need him in that series, handily finishing them off in a short four games. The Raptors, however, are a completely different story. Hayward’s playmaking, defense, and shooting all would have been a tremendous help in making this series a lot shorter than it has been.
The Celtics will need to find something tonight to make Hayward’s re-entry into the Bubble not in vain. For the Celtics to win tonight, they’ll need Kemba Walker to have more of a Game 5 performance (21 points, 7 assists, 53% from the field) than a Game 6 performance (5 points, 7 assists, 18% from the field on 11 attempts). The Celtics will also need Jayson Tatum to cut down on turnovers, for Jaylen Brown to shoot better from the field, and for Marcus Smart to keep being Marcus Smart without getting into foul trouble.
The Celtics take on the Raptors in a winner-take-all Game 7 tonight at 9 PM EST on TNT.